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WETC Highlights Basic Skills Training Program

Sun Advocate publisher

Mark Marasco descends a storage tank stairway at Castle Valley Oil in Price. WETC offers classes to teach basic skills in the energy industry.

During the last College of Eastern Utah trustees meeting, officials from the Western Energy Training Center laid out plans for the programs the facility will offer.

"There are three areas that need to be provided for in the energy industry," explained WETC program director Bob Topping. "There is a large need for training in the construction, transportation and direct energy production when it comes to the energy industry."

A significant amount of what is done in the energy industry has to do with infrastructure, pointed out Topping.

Once an energy source has been found or is created, infrastructure becomes important in processing and transporting it through the refining process to the consumer.

"The whole idea of what we are doing at WETC is to expand the labor pool of workers that are ready to work in and around the energy industry," stated Topping. "This means people need basic skill sets to begin with."

The type of basic skill set training recently started at the center.

Classes on work readiness have begun to teach students skill sets that are universal to the energy business, whether they eventually work in the oil, gas or coal areas of industry.

"We have developed this and other programs to attract learners who can use their skills as soon as they come out of the program," explained Topping. "We want to provide a great product that will help them walk away with the skills they need."

Throughout the presentation during the CEU board of trustees meeting, Topping and WETC director Steve Burge spoke about a "menu of deliverables" that would be produced by the center.

The term includes providing specific training not only for individuals, but for companies supporting the energy center by sending employees or potential workers to the facility for instruction.

Menu of deliverables also has to do with showing the growth and performance of Western Energy Training Center to the agencies that provided grants to get the center started and working.

There are a number of training operations going on at WETC at the present time and many courses are designed to fit employers who need employees trained.

But officials believe that the energy workforce readiness program is important to all who want to work in the related and support industries.

The program consists of a group of preparatory courses for candidates seeking entry level technical positions in the energy, transportation and construction industries.

The program is designed to be an eight-week "learn by doing" the first step process to prepare attendees for an energy industrial career, according to Topping and Burge.

The courses are geared toward entry level jobs in occupations such as general labor or truck driver.

But with all the skills learned by participants at the center along the way, the training could help lead students toward future positions like plant mechanics, instrument technicians, heavy equipment operation and licensed field technicians.

The energy work force readiness program was designed based on conversations Burge and Topping have had with companies interested in finding qualified personnel to fill jobs.

"This is a program that the energy industry needs and wants," pointed out Topping.

Under the energy workforce readiness program, 17 different categories of competencies and certifications exist.

Many of the skills students develop have to do with safety in the workplace and the basic concepts of doing all kinds of jobs in an industrial setting.

Program participants are instructed in basic electrical principles and concepts, OSHA/MSHA certifications, CDL certifications, basic welding and cutting, blueprints and mapping along with basic skills for energy production.

The current program lasts for six weeks and includes 240 hours of training.

"Our emphasis here is not only on knowing, but also on doing," said Topping. "We want trained people who can walk right out into the work force."

The energy workforce readiness training program is only one of three that are currently being offered at WETC.

Additional programs are planned at the Western Energy Training Center in the future, according to Topping and Burge.

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